Where Does Beauty Get You?

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Thankful Crenshaw

I’ve been thinking lately of my female characters and how little I actually understand about them. This isn’t a bad thing because it keeps me curious, but inevitably I get dazzled by their beauty or annoyed by their tendency towards bitchiness. (I’m glad that this word is no longer a cuss because if you’ve ever seen hens happily hanging out together suddenly gang up and peck a seemingly innocent friend you know female bitches aren’t just human).

Because my grandmother was such a bitch and also didn’t protect my mother and her sisters from their stepfather, my mother instilled in me a sense that one should never trust a friendly woman with a smile–at least not too much. It’s led to a certain wary, superficiality in my friendships and possibly in the treatment of my female characters.

Katherine Weldon’s only friend, Margaret, in The House On Tenafly Road is a full-on bitch who protects her friend by domination and  the occasional pointed stab of “helpful” advice. Book two brings Margaret’s daughter, Thankful Crenshaw, into view and with her comes a different sort of tension. Thankful is the beautiful twin. I found these pictures at a garage sale a few weeks back. Don’t the two young women look like sisters? They are now officially Thankful and her sister Meg. Meg is dowdy and bitter and hardly deserves notice–or that’s how the family sees her. I know her fate and there’s no transformation.

Yet Thankful troubles one and all. Of course she’s expected to marry well. With her raven curls, innate intelligence and optimistic air her ascent is assured. Even William Weldon who loves her knows this and steers clear of her. Poor Thankful believes the hype. When she looks in the mirror it is incomprehensible to her that someone so physically stunning would have anything but an easy path to satisfaction in all things. When William goes West she steals money from her father to follow only to realize that this beauty she carries as a talisman doesn’t free her. It had never occurred to her that she wanted freedom.

A traveling suffragist lectures Thankful, warning her that even with beauty, the world is a man’s one, but Thankful refuses to believe . . . until much later. Her sister Meg, the dumpy one, remains a quiet mystery, but Thankful begins to demand a new world, a new life and sometimes demanding things when people really only value your beauty doesn’t go very well. Thankful’s fate is still unknown, but even I have a difficult time imagining someone so pretty coming to ruin.

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Meg Crenshaw

7 thoughts on “Where Does Beauty Get You?

  1. Funny how in your minds eye you get these characters. I know when I read the news reports, then write about them, I have these visions of what type of person they are, their circumstances, it could all be vastly wrong, but it,s great creating these people.
    I,ve never connected them to photographs…yet!

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    • What I love is that I’ve never looked at a picture first and then come up with the character. When you have the idea in your head and then you come across a photograph or painting with someone who looks like a person you created it’s as if they really existed before you made them up! Maybe it’s like being a casting director in a movie.

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    • They very well could be, but if that’s true I would have fired the photographer of the second picture! Anyway, since Thankful and Meg are twins they should look alike, yet different 🙂 I love the way the first girl’s skirt accentuates her womanly figure.

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      • Maybe the photographer was okay, but she gained a bit of weight (oh my!) The skirt is beautiful. As if it wasn’t difficult enough to keep clean, they had to keep these lovely light colored clothes clean! I’m so lazy it would drive me nuts to do all that difficult laundry (I know this is boring).

        Hi Ho,
        Elephant

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      • Not boring at all. This summer I thought I’d try to dress a little nicer so I went and got a bunch of skirts to wear around when mucking the goat barn (like they did in the old days). It didn’t go well because the shoes didn’t match which annoyed me when I looked down at my feet (now that’s probably boring info). You have to be really well off to wear white.

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      • It is important to look good when mucking out the goat barn. Goats are very disrespectful if they sense that you don’t care about fashion!

        Hi Ho,
        Elephant

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